You Are Not Your Pain: A Letter to Myself

By Tori MargaretAugust 22, 2016

Dear friend,

I know how you’re feeling. I know the exhaustion that stretches across your skin and the emptiness returning to your chest after a long year. It has been a long one. You’ve survived so much.

I know you want to huddle in bed right now instead of writing this, but I also know you ache to be remembered. You yearn to be longed for. You want people to see and know you. You hope to be that person for them—a person worth loving.

You’ve changed. You entered this year on uncertain feet, without any direction, and you leave this year with more scars and more purpose. You’ve been humbled. You’ve opened your heart and had it crushed, opened your heart and had it seen. You’ve seen vulnerability and betrayal, grief and broken spirits. You’ve cried in a doctor’s office and alone on your bedroom floor. You’ve sat in a therapist’s office and heard her say this will probably last your whole life. You cried again and you let go.

You let go of fighting this, of trying to overcome this. You let go of being the failure who couldn’t pull it together, who couldn’t get the victory. You let go of holding God responsible for not “fixing” this. You let go of the doubt that this is all in your head—that you need to think harder or smarter to get over this. You let go of the friends who didn’t stay.

You’ve lost much, but you’ve also gained. You learned to ask questions. You learned to be honest. You learned to tell someone you need help. You learned the importance of being present and the importance of listening. You learned about yourself—that who you are is OK. That all of the emotions and questions and fears, all of the stories and passions and dreams—all of these are yours to own. They are not simply symptoms of an illness. You are more than any illness. It does not own you.

You’ve learned not to blame yourself for the things that aren’t you. The obsessive double-triple-quadruple checks. The irrational thought patterns. The tears that come and go without reason. The hollow days. The tired days. The shaky, sweaty days. The incessant moments of panic rising up out of nowhere, tackling you when you aren’t looking. You’ve learned that the rants and the downhill tumbles aren’t what define you.

People who’ve left don’t define you, either. How you respond to their absence doesn’t define you. Hope defines you. Love defines you. You define you.

You are not a hopeless case or a lost cause. You are standing up again, tending your wounds, moving forward. You are not a victim. You are a survivor, a warrior, a strong human being growing stronger every day. You are not in spite of your struggle; you are not because of your struggle. Struggle is only a place where you are refined, made stronger. You are becoming more clearly you every day.

You don’t have to try so hard. The pain is not your fault. The pain is not a character flaw or a quick fix. You don’t have to blame yourself for it or pretend it’s not there. Feel it. It’s OK to feel. Feeling takes strength.

It’s OK to be in pain. It’s OK to say you’re in pain. But always remember: You are not your pain. You are living with pain, but the pain is not everything. The pain is, but you are more.

Don’t forget: You do not have to find your way out of this darkness alone. You do not have to hide in shame. After all, you are not fighting against yourself anymore. You can call to others to help you.

Look at you: the strong one, the one who survived a hard year. But you didn’t just survive. You kept hoping in the dark places. You believed in your own worth even when you felt broken and alone.

How do I know this? You are here. You didn’t give up. You kept moving forward. You were so brave to ask for help, so brave to face the pain and see yourself beyond it.

You are so strong, friend. You have been all along.

Tori Margaret writes about her personal struggle with anxiety, depression, and OCD to remind others that they are not alone. You can read her writing on mental illness and faith at

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Comments (33)

  1. Rosemary Williamson

    This is really encouraging.

    Reply  |  
  2. antonio

    good post, very encouraging

    Reply  |  
  3. Amy

    How beautiful….:’-/

    Reply  |  
  4. Natalie

    Thank you for this. Today has been hard like everyday. This was so inspiring. You are an amazing writer

    Reply  |  
  5. Victoria Conley

    That was beautiful my friend. Thank you for sharing this.

    Reply  |  
  6. Dieuwke

    It’s like it is written just for me… TWLOHA I get a lot of support out of your work, even half way across the world, thank you so much for that. <3

    Reply  |  
  7. Arabella

    You and I are much different, it seems.

    People may spout words dipped in hope and good intentions, but sometimes, you need more than just words. If you choose to ignore those honeyed words, if we chose to lose ourselves in our own mind, we are lost.

    Sometimes we must get lost to be found once more.

    Reply  |  
  8. Roger

    “People who’ve left don’t define you”

    But the void they once occupied screams otherwise.

    Reply  |  
  9. Kerry Gordon

    Every single word

    Reply  |  
  10. Jenny

    This is so incredibly relatable. Thank you.

    Reply  |  
  11. Donaven Smith

    Thank you for sharing this with us. I’ve never related to a piece of writing so well in my entire life. Keep moving forward, Tori.

    Reply  |  
  12. Natalie A

    Thank You for these beautiful words. I read it every day. <3

    Reply  |  
  13. Jessica Rae Pulver-Adell

    Tori, this hit home for me. I’d love to connect with you.

    Reply  |  
  14. Pingback: Delight and Be™ | You Are Not Your Pain: A Letter to Myself

  15. Andrew


    Reply  |  
  16. Tina

    How beautifully profound !

    Reply  |  
  17. lauri

    Thank you. Though I don’t want to get up today, I will get up again.

    Reply  |  
  18. Pingback: The Gospel I Love is not the Gospel We’ve Been Told

  19. Bobby BRECHLER

    very encouraging. I have been in need of hearing something like this for a long time now. thank you.

    Reply  |  
  20. Kevin trotter

    I wanted to let you know I was deeply moved by this letter. It’s as if you knew my thoughts and struggles. I made a copy of the letter and read it daily. it has given me strength and inspiration. I’ve struggled with depression most of my life and after a very difficult year I am struggling with one of the worst bouts of depression ever. Your letter has helped me to see myself in a different light and given me a sense of hope. Thank you so much for posting this thoughts and prayers are with you.s sincerely, Kevin

    Reply  |  
  21. Abha

    Everyday was a guilty self for me but after reading this I know I am not my pain…thank you from bottom of my heart!!

    Reply  |  
  22. Elna Lee

    Worth reading.

    Reply  |  
  23. Gladys Joy A. Jayona

    Hi Toni,

    Thank you for this. I felt loved after surviving in my knee injury. Thank you.


    Reply  |  
  24. Tip

    I needed this so much this morning I really did You have no idea how much your words could save someone sometimes. Whatever that may entail thank you , friend .

    Reply  |  
  25. Jamy lee

    Mag ek hier dalk in my brief gebruik dis hoe ek voel en waardeur x gn x wil graag dt gebruik

    Reply  |  
  26. Hanni

    This is so touching and so sad.

    Reply  |  
  27. Mike Jubb

    I was able read the article dated March 12 , 2020 . “A letter From a Therapist: I Struggle Too” . I have worked with support groups as a facilitator . Your words are deeply reaching . Colorado Springs DBSA news letter ” The Initiative ” [ Mid Summer 2021 ] . Thank you,Mike Jubb

    Reply  |  
  28. atiqah

    thankyou for this amazing words <3

    Reply  |  
  29. Irene Kariuki

    You’ve really saved me ..I didn’t know what to feel nor what to do but you have done it for me in a very special way..words cannot express how specially you have helped me.Thank you a lot.

    Reply  |  
  30. Vanessa Joyce Ignacio

    Thank you so much! I needed this. It’s exactly what I’m dealing right now.

    Hope you’re okay as well! Hugs 🤧

    Reply  |  
  31. madie

    im here to help

    Reply  |  
  32. Greeshma

    Ya ya

    Reply  |  
  33. Limpo


    Reply  |  
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